“I need to build online relationships? How will that influence ranking?”
Promoting and raising the profile of brands or individuals online, in a similar vein to PR, is the basic role of SEO today. And like PR, having authoritative networks and connections increases opportunities for promotion.
So. If you can inspire influential contacts with high authority sites to cooperate with you (cite your brand, place your content or give you a link), their influence will, put simply, rub off on you and boost your own authority. But to do this you need to create and maintain good outreach relationships with those valuable influencers.
“How will citations help my rank?”
Resulting from Google’s valuation of co-citation (wide-reaching mentions of a brand and their key attributes in content) SEO professionals are realising the importance of building relationships and outreaching to influential opportunities, in addition to link building.
So as the best way to outreach assets and build links to high authority sites, winning and maintaining online relationships to encourage links and citation should form a large slice of your content management strategy.
And as a result, the better your online relationships, the more authoritative your content and links will be, improving your overall ranking. Simple so far, right?
How to build online relationships
Well here’s the tricky part. Those contacts you’re trying to build relationships with? They know their influential power and won’t give it out to just anyone. To secure content placement and get strong links from a great source will require a little work, and lots of long-term maintenance.
Begin by boosting your own profile.
You must contribute something useful to an online relationship to receive attention in return. Consider your own status and background as a useable asset. If you can prove you have a little substance (offering reputation, expert advice etc.) you are more likely to be listened to, and if you’re lucky, have content placed and links built. If you don’t have that sort of reputation, find some way to make your content or site look unavoidably appealing.
Source your opportunities.
First of all, just finding a place to outreach to is hard. Now, with so many link builders requesting precedence on so many sites, locating and nurturing trusting relationships with just a few high-quality sources (matched to your own status and league) rather than many low-quality ones is difficult and time consuming, but worth the rank if successful.
Really plan your outreach approach.
When first outreaching DON’T immediately dive into a link request, or ramble on about your great content or brand! Doing this will loose you an audience before you begin. Take a human approach to your introduction; you’re more likely to see a positive response if you’re brief and offer something of value (perhaps a simple compliment!), and must be prepared to give a lot more than you’ll receive. Online relationship building is like job-hunting. You can expect to send out a lot of CV’s and only get a few interviews in return.
Consider the signals you’re already sending out.
Look at your social media, corporate site, blog updates and general online presence. Does it display interest in non-brand related subjects? Just as people don’t tend to make friends with self-centred individuals in the real world, to build online relationships you need to show sincere interest in other things – the individuals you’re contacting and their sites. Research the site you’re aiming placement on (part of planning your approach!), and in your outreach, state how examples of their work have inspired you and your content.
Don’t chase too hastily.
Yes you’re excited about your new influential prospects, but resist the urge to fire off daily reminder emails! There’s nothing more annoying than an over-active link builder clogging an already stuffed inbox – and too much chasing can result in requests being rejected, regardless of the quality of the content.
Remember there is no quick easy way to build trust – it requires skill, creativity, luck, and like any relationship a little time, patience and compassion!